Dow Chemical Co. has joined forces with Symyx Technologies Inc. in a three-year, $18 million partnership to develop polyolefin catalysts that could be used in a range of plastic products.
The agreement will use Symyx's combinatorial materials science, which incorporates high-speed, automated testing to compare materials at a rate Symyx claims is 100,000 times faster than conventional ``small-batch'' procedures.
Symyx, a Santa Clara, Calif., firm founded in 1995, has moved combinatorial chemistry away from its origins in the pharmaceutical industry and focused on materials selection. The company has done polyolefins work for Hoechst AG and is working on nonplastics projects for Bayer AG and BFGoodrich Co.
Midland, Mich.-based Dow, a top global producer of polyethylene and polystyrene, hopes the partnership significantly will reduce research and development time for new materials, said Ed Gambrell, vice president of Dow's Insite-brand technology.
Insite uses metallocene catalysts and has been used to improve linear low density PE and other Dow materials' performance. But Gambrell stressed the partnership isn't merely intended to build on Insite technology.
``If this was just an incremental improvement on our current catalysts, we wouldn't have done it,'' Gambrell said March 10 by telephone. ``We're looking at this as long-term, new-catalyst development.''
Gambrell added that although the initial focus of the Dow-Symyx effort will be on ``broad polyolefins,'' Dow hopes to use the technology throughout the company. Dow also will use the technology to take a look at materials the company currently does not manufacture, he said.
As part of the deal, Dow gets world rights to polyolefin products developed through the technology, and the option to acquire use of Symyx technology. Symyx will receive $18 million in research payments and fees and royalties from polyolefin product sales resulting from the partnership.